Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 12 June 2011





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Jayasuriya to call it a day

SCHOOLBOY CRICKETER: The yester year (1988) Sunday Observer Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya who hails from St. Servatius’ College, Matara, will bid adieu to rigours of International Cricket with just 2 days away from celebrating his 42nd birthday while in action in England.

The veteran Sanath Jayasuriya who was surprisingly called by the selectors for the rest of the on going English tour, may well be due to the absence of regular opener Upul Tharanga and the injured skipper T.M. Dilshan, has dropped a bombshell himself by announcing that he will play only the T20 and the first ODI before calling it quits from all forms of International Cricket.

Jayasuriya will retire from International Cricket after the T20 and the first ODI against England to be played on June 28 at the London Oval. He was born on June 30, 1969.

The London Oval is a happy hunting ground for Jayasuriya - the venue where he scored 213 against England and his companion Muralitharan had a match-bag of 16 wickets in a one-off Test which Sri Lanka won.

The former Sri Lanka Captain Jayasuriya, who led the country in 38 Tests and 117 ODI’s was selected for the remainder of the tour of England, but he has decided to play only in the solitary T20 and the first ODI to be played on June 28 at the London Oval.

Jayasuriya was ambitious to play in the recently concluded 2011 World Cup held in the sub-continent, but was ignored by the selectors and he regrets that very much.

The devastating left-hander who could tear any attack into shreds, made his Test debut in Hamilton, New Zealand in February 1991 and has planned his last appearance in International Cricket in England after two decades of competitive cricket.

Many firsts

Among his many ‘firsts’ in the cricket field, Jayasuriya has gone beyond the boundary to be the first elected Member of Parliament in any part of the sphere to be actively involved in International Cricket after being elected to parliament.

However, prior to Jayasuriya, there was former England captain Ted Dexter who was actively involved in politics while representing his country at cricket . He contested for the Conservative Party and lost in the United Kingdom General Elections in 1964.

Likewise, versatile English cricketer C.B. Fry - a cricketer, football player who also held the world long jump record at one time, contesting from the Liberal Party lost at the U.K. elections three times.

Jayasuriya’s recall for the national squad in England for the ODI series and the T20 will no doubt enable him for a ceremonial send off. He turns 42 on 30 June, and could be proud that he is the oldest cricketer in the International Cricket circle playing today.

Although the 1996 World Cup win in Lahore, Pakistan could be classed as a team effort, the names of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana were synonymous for their devil may care batting displays that put Sri Lanka well in front during the first 15 overs of the match.

The left and right hand combination of the duo changed the manner in which the world saw Sri Lanka as a cricket team. Due to their daredevil batting displays, the feared opening pair was known as ‘Mahasona’ and ‘Riri Yaka’ by their teammates.

Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana were empowered by the then captain Arjuna Ranatunga and coach Devenall Whatmore to demolish bowling attacks with their dare-devil batting approach which sent the fielders on a leather hunt.

They made the compact middle order, comprising Asanka Gurusinha, Aravinda de Silva, Roshan Mahanama and Hashan Tilekeratne to take over from a sound platform built by them. The other teams too, tried to emulate this approach by sending ‘pinch hitters’ but none of them were as successful as the Sanath- Kalu combination.

Started as left-arm spinner

Jayasuriya started as a slow left-arm spinner, who could bat, and was labelled as a limited-over player when he toured Pakistan in 1995. Sri Lanka beat Pakistan 2-1 in the Test series, but Jayasuriya was not considered to play in a single Test match. He fared well in all three departments of the game in the ODI series against Pakistan.

In 1996 Sri Lanka toured Australia just before the World Cup, and Jayasuriya was given instructions to bat in his own inimitable style. From that day, the Jayasuriya-Kaluwitharana pair formed the most lethal opening combination in ODI’s which made the maximum from the first 15 overs field restrictions at that time.

Jayasuriya won the Man of the Series award at the 1996 World Cup for his outstanding batting display. However, he failed to live upto expectations with the bat in the semi- final against India at Eden Gardens, Calcutta.

Then in the final against Australia at Lahore, Pakistan, Jayasuriya displayed his allround capabilities against India with ball taking 3 for 12 and had prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar -stumped by Kaluwitharana which triggered an Indian collapse. It also made the capacity Indian crowd restless which ultimately made the match referee abandon the match and award the win to Sri Lanka.

A triple hundred against India

Sanath has scored a triple hundred (340) against India at the R. Premadasa Stadium,Colombo and captained Sri Lanka in the 2003 World Cup. He was also a member of the 2007 World Cup and played under Mahela Jayawardena.

Jayasuriya was forced to retire from Test cricket in 2006 by the then selectors, but came back in 2007. He officially announced his retirement from Test cricket in 2007 after the Sri Lanka-England series in Kandy. His last innings was 78 against England .

Jayasuriya played in 110 Test matches and scored 6,973 runs including 14 centuries and a double hundred and 31 half centuries. He has also taken 98 Test wickets.

In the 444 ODI’s he has played so far, Jayasuriya has scored 13,428 runs with 28 centuries and a highest score of 189. He has also struck 58 half centuries. He has entertained the cricket loving public around the world by stroking 1,500 boundaries and 270 sixes in the ODI’s.



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